PAINESVILLE, Ohio - The number of children whose parents are homeless in Lake County jumped so much in recent years that the county’s only homeless shelter has seen a nearly 250 percent increase in its youth residents.
“We have a new homeless with moms with kids,” said Steve Jacobs, the homeless intervention director for the Painesville Salvation Army.
Lake County’s Project Hope housed just 23 kids in 2009. In 2012, it housed 80 children.
“That’s an ongoing and growing problem is the economy,” said Jacobs, who added that there’s been at least a 60 percent increase in homelessness in Painesville in the last two years.
“It’s very, very difficult and stressful,” said Paige McLeod, a Painesville mom who’s been homeless for the past three years. “You have to worry about where you’re going to lay your head.”
McLeod is a mother of four and six months pregnant. She’s bounced from shelters to friends’ homes to park benches all while being split from her own kids.
“I didn’t have the help and support that I needed,” she said.
Drugs, alcohol and prostitution contributed to the 30-year-old’s homelessness. But for the past seven months, she’s said she’s been clean and sober.
“They (people who are homeless) have nowhere to go,” Jacobs said.
As of April 2012, Lake Metropolitan Housing Authority had a waiting list of nearly 800 families for affordable housing. McLeod is now on that waiting list too.
“There’s always hope,” she said. “It’s not always negative.”
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